Don’t talk to me about graduation; like, the event itself. I would rather not consider that reality. I’m unprepared for that milestone, or rather, reluctant to accept it.
As us seniors approach our final days, it’s impossible to avoid conversation about graduating, and inevitable such conversations take place. Still, spare me that.
If you want, I could chat about all of the plans I have for these next four weeks – the bucket list boxes to check, the parties to attend, the people to see, the favorite traditions to uphold, the professors to thank, the homework to skip, the pranks to pull, did I mention the people to see? But forget the finish line. For now, that’s off limits.
If you’re thinking about coming to me with, “Are you scared it’s your last year?” or “I’m getting secondhand sadness thinking about you graduating,” and so on, don’t. I will shut that down in an instant, most likely with an awkward chuckle and a monosyllabic acknowledgment of your words.
If you want, we could gab about post-grad life, as that’s a reality I’m willing to accept. You want to know my next steps? Ask away. I’m going to grad school. Maybe I’ll work in a newspaper afterwards, or I’ll publish a book or I’ll be a waiter. Such matters are daunting, but not overwhelming.
Why do you suppose I haven’t bought my cap and gown yet? Concerned myself with tickets to the ceremony and the logistics of that fateful day? Because I don’t want to think about it. It’s like the Gordian knot of meditation: the more you try not to think, the more you think about thinking. So here I am, expending some of the last words I’ll write for The Daily Campus on a topic I specifically don’t want to talk about.
The act of graduating is a metaphorical representation of and literal ending. If I’m being honest, I don’t want this to end. It’s warm out, we should all stick around awhile – take over the campus like the protesting students at Columbia University did in the 60s. Drink beer with Susan Herbst and reminisce on the good times when her police officers would look for my pot smoking friends outside of Shippee and I would mercilessly target her leadership priorities and expansive pocketbook in public. Have another pig roast and invite Mun Choi to come through for one last go-around before his big Missouri debut. Or just hole up with my friends for a few weeks.
Yes, I’m in denial. Maybe it’s because if this ends, that might mean the friendships I’ve made here end, too. If this ends, maybe the respect of my instructors, the beautiful lakes, hills, forests and streams, the camaraderie of The Daily Campus, the rivalries with Greek life and The Black Sheep, UConn basketball, the Jungle, crazy Carriage and Celeron, basement punk rock parties, a cappella get downs, nickel nights, short stories, fistfights, Halloweens and late nights melt away, too.
To answer your stupid, annoying question, I am, in fact, afraid. Not of what comes before, or after, but of the end. Don’t say something dumb like, “Look at it as a new beginning,” because the end is the end; UConn won’t come back again.
My advice? Battle for every extra moment, friend and achievement you can manage, even if one day that means you’ll refuse to accept the reality of the end.
Sten Spinella is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.